Chai Lai (Thailand 2006)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/2/13
Alternate Titles: "Dangerous Flowers", "Chai Lai Angels"
Cast: Bongkoj Khongmalai, Nui Ketsarin (Kessarin Ektawatkul), Supakson Chaimongkol, Nawarat Taecharatansprasert, Petchtai Wongkamlao

A wasted opportunity at every turn. "Chai Lai" is an action comedy with an obvious nod to "Charlie's Angels," but the action is weak and the comedy isn't funny. Five female spies make up the Chai Lai group, whose latest mission is to make sure the precious Andaman Pearl doesn't get stolen by a silly bad guy and his transvestite henchman, King Kong. Only a young Japanese girl named Miki (Nawarat Taecharatansprasert) knows the secret of the pearl, and she gets kidnapped at the beginning of the film due to the Chai Lai's ineptitude. After some romantic drama between Rose (pretty Bongkoj Khongmalai) and her boyfriend, and numerous failed attempts to rescue Miki, the Chai Lais finally succeed in taking out the bad guys and returning the Andaman Pearl to the sea before it explodes.

It's so depressing to see stuff like this. The actresses are talented and beautiful, and there's real potential in the material, but the execution is sloppy and the tone is overly goofy. Naturally, most of the humor focuses on the bad guys getting defeated as a result of being distracted by the Chai Lai's feminine charms. Action scenes are sprinkled with cartoon sound effects, and the action itself is obscured by jerky camera work, machine gun editing, and drop-frame time compression to simulate speed. The fight choreography is decent, and the girls perform admirably and are fun to watch. Pouy-sian (tae kwon do champion Nui Ketsarin) is especially enjoyable, as she gets more physical with her opponents and her moves are quick, graceful, and precise. She's also drop-dead gorgeous. Rose has a beautiful smile, handles a gun well, and looks great dancing in her underwear, while Lotus (Supakson Chaimongkol) performs some nice sword work and wire stunts. The other two Chai Lais (Hibiscus and Stadix) are forgettable comedic foils. However, it's the young Miki who steals the show as a bad-ass school girl who repeatedly kicks everyone's asses. It gets even better in the gratuitous epilogue when she rides into battle with a belt-fed machine gun. The production values are pretty good and overall the film looks nice. Unfortunately, the visual effects are uniformly awful and are a major distraction and disappointment. If you can handle the screwball humor, "Chai Lai" is a guilty pleasure at best.